Canadian Snowbird Facing Ponzi Charges

Yet another part-time resident of Palm Beach County is facing allegations of financial fraud. Earl Jones, who ran an investment firm based in Montreal, but who since 1992 has had a condo in Boca Raton, is accused of a $50 million Ponzi scheme, mostly with Canadian investors.

Jones had been missing since late June, when alarms were  going off about his company, Earl Jones Consultant and Administration. Furious investors thought he'd managed to leave the country a few weeks ago, but he finally turned up Monday. He's charged with theft and fraud.

The existence of a Boca condo comes as analysts are poring over the Jones estate. While he's being rebuked for living a life of luxury, allegedly with the money he was supposed to be managing, Jones and his wife Maxine lived humbly when in South Florida. County property records say the unit at Newth Gardens on Banyan Road was worth about $292,000.

That will surely come as a disappointment to investors who only started to panic when it was too late. An accountant who's examined some 60 bank accounts told the Canadian press he had only found about $30,000.

It appears that Jones liquidated most of his assets in January, the month after the world learned about another financial adviser who spent winters in Palm Beach: Madoff.

Jones, of course, is innocent until proven guilty. But at least while he's out on $30,000 bail, you might want to warn your grandmother not to take his phone call.

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Thomas Francis